Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Deadline Looms

I have three days left and I am a nervous wreck.

I’m talking about the deadline for a contest, which happens to be the 31st of March. It’s for an online literary magazine called Narrative Magazine, and it’s the first contest that I will be entering since 2005.

There’s nothing quite like writing for a deadline, I’ll tell you that. Generally when I write for submission, I have this inner energy that pushes me, makes me anxious to get it done and get it out, mostly, I think, because I have this illogical fear that someone will submit something better ahead of me and I will miss the boat, so to speak. But it’s an underlying anxiousness, a gentle push that says, ‘come on, quit checking out the porn sites and get to work.’

Just kidding. I don’t look at porn sites, but there’s usually something online that drags me away from being productive. Like checking my workshop site and talking with my writer’s group. Or checking my email. But then once it’s submitted there’s an air of accomplishment that usually carries me on a cloud for the next day and a half.

But contests are different. Deadlines make it different. Deadlines mean there is no dragging your feet, no messing around. The boat will not wait.

At this point, the story’s already written and it’s in its third revision. But there’s more to be done, more critiques that my writing group has given me that need to be implemented. I’m on the last stretch, this is true, but it’s the hardest stretch. It’s the stretch that infuses the most fear in me, because deep down I keep wondering, as I delete this sentence, add this word; am I making it worse?

That’s a very real fear, I think in most writers. You get to a point where you’ve read and re-read, revised and re-revised so many times that you’re doing it in your sleep. You’re hearing your written words over and over in your mind, as you’re doing the dishes, driving to work, listening to your children.

And that’s when the words become meaningless syllables that no longer make sense. You become almost numb in a sense. And with a deadline looming ahead, the fear turns frantic. It becomes harder to be objective.

So I have to rely on my writing friends to point me in the right direction. Their suggestions and critiques have the objectiveness that I have temporarily lost.

Now, I just need to implement them. And I have three days to do it.


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